Monday, September 6, 2010

“'Machete' Fake movie trailer turns bloody flick - Berkshire Eagle” plus 3 more

“'Machete' Fake movie trailer turns bloody flick - Berkshire Eagle” plus 3 more

'Machete' Fake movie trailer turns bloody flick - Berkshire Eagle

Posted: 05 Sep 2010 05:58 AM PDT

Saturday September 4, 2010

Certainly, "Machete" is the best feature-length extension of a fake movie trailer in Hollywood history.

Fans who saw the trailer in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's 2007 "Grindhouse" double-feature continually asked Rodriguez to turn the make-believe ad featuring Danny Trejo into a real blood-and-guts vengeance flick.

Rodriguez has complied, maintaining a fair amount of the wicked humor and every bit of the savage bloodshed the trailer promised.

Viewers get precisely what they're paying for: beheadings, skewerings and kill shots to the head by the dozen, with other means of dispatch -- death by corkscrew, high heels, crucifixion -- tossed in for variety.

They also get a crazy range of supporting players -- Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan -- all having a ball committing atrocities.

Rodriguez is like a kid in a candy store -- a pretty twisted kid in a very sick and disturbing candy store -- but fans of his R-rated stuff already knew that and are on board.

They'll most definitely be on board with "Machete," which gives ex-prison inmate Trejo his first lead role in a long career of mostly smallish parts as taciturn tough guys who choose their words carefully.

Trejo's Machete doesn't talk much, either, but he's a commandingly fun presence, a former Mexican federal cop working as a day laborer in Texas after being left for dead by drug kingpin Torrez (Seagal), who also killed

his family.

Trouble follows Machete, who goes on the run after he's hired as the fall guy in an assassination attempt on a radically conservative anti-immigration state senator (De Niro).


"Machete" has the same made-on-the-cheap, outlandishly violent '70s vibe as "Grindhouse," down to the funky music provided by Rodriguez's band Chingon.

To clear his name and take sweet revenge, Machete goes on a rampage that puts him up against Seagal's Torrez, De Niro's senator, a slimy political kingmaker (Jeff Fahey), a ruthless border vigilante (Johnson) and scores of lesser thugs.

Allies rally to Machete's side -- a right-minded immigration agent (Alba), a taco vendor who moonlights as a revolutionary (Michelle Rodriguez), and Machete's priestly brother (Cheech Marin).

De Niro's a hoot, with a Southern drawl reminiscent of his accent in "Cape Fear" as he plays the senator's comic-book xenophobia with joyous frenzy. And Trejo is a welcome variation on the slick action hero -- a cunning, ragged survivor who prefers blades but gets very creative with guns, gardening tools and kitchen utensils when other weapons are scarce.

Most everyone else does their part well enough, though why Lohan signed on is a mystery. Her role is just strange -- hitting close to home when she appears as a drugged-up party girl early on, with Rodriguez eventually maneuvering her into a nun's habit as she joins his overindulgent finale of gunplay and explosions.

Like most of Rodriguez's movies "Machete" is never as fun or funny as he thinks it is. There are clever wisecracks, and some of the action is fresh and inventive, if you don't mind blood and body parts flying in all directions.

Yet much of the violence is repetitive while the movie lapses into indolence in between action sequences, the characters uninvolving, the dialogue boring.

The good news for fans: there isn't all that much downtime between the relentless action, which, after all, is what that fake "Machete" trailer promised, and what the audience has come for.

"Machete" (1:45) is rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, language, some sexual content and nudity.

At: Beacon Cinema (Pittsfield), and Regal Berkshire Mall 10 (Lanesborough).

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Movie Review: 'The American' - Delaware County Daily Times

Posted: 05 Sep 2010 02:44 AM PDT

In this film publicity image released by Focus Features, George Clooney, left, and Violante Placido are shown in a scene from, "The American." (AP Photo/Focus Features, Giles Keyte)

NEW YORK (AP) --- Hidden from critics until just before its release, the dirty secret about "The American" turns out to be that it's an "art film." Heavens, no!

Director Anton Corbijn has crafted a quiet, haunting European thriller, drained of emotion and moving to its own deliberate pace.

It's the second film from Corbijn, a famed photographer and music video director who's closely associated with the bands Depeche Mode and Joy Division (among others). His first film, "Control," was a beautiful, austere black-and-white biopic of Joy Division's Ian Curtis.

"The American," too, has the bleak fatalism of a Joy Division song, but taut and restrained, it bears none of the rock 'n' roll release.

George Clooney plays an assassin, Jack, whom the film opens on in bed with a beautiful woman, warm next to a fire in a winter cabin. Afterward, they bundle up and take a stroll in the knee-deep snow, where snipers suddenly begin firing at them. Jack quickly and with obvious skill dispatches the threat, and tells his shocked companion to call the police. As soon as she turns, he shoots her in the back of the head. So much for pillow talk.

His boss (Johan Leysen) tells him by phone to lie low in a small Italian village. Arriving there, he takes one look at it and makes a U-turn, settling on the more appealing nearby town of Castelvecchio, a picturesque medieval village in the mountains of Abruzzo.

Jack putts around town — a stone labyrinth — posing as a photographer of landscapes and architecture. Though he has been warned not to "make any friends," the town priest, Father Benedetto (Paulo Bonacelli), befriends him, and he develops a relationship with a prostitute, Clara (Violante Placido).

They both see the darkness hanging over Jack, but are hopeful for him. Clara tells him, "You're a good man, but you have a secret." Father Benedetto warns, "You're American. You think you can escape history."

His past is catching up, too. Someone is shadowing him, reports of his previous misdeeds are showing up in the newspapers and a new job arrives: building a silent, highly precise rifle — a task which he attends to with the care of an artisan.

Though Jack says little and remains largely inscrutable, Corbijn — working from a script by Rowan Joffe, loosely adapted from Martin Booth's 1990 novel, "A Very Private Gentleman" — gives glimpses of his sensitivity. He finds it difficult to deny the companionship of the priest or the love of Clara. He has a weakness, too, for butterflies, with a tattoo of one of them on his back.

The question of Jack's salvation is hinted at by the remarkable opening title sequence (which follows the abrupt shooting in the snow) that simply frames Jack in silhouette as he drives through a long tunnel with a bright light shining at the end.

"Michael Clayton" concluded with Clooney similarly in a car, but fully lit, finally unburdened. Here, with dark gray hair and a sinewy frame, he's again downcast, troubled and full of doubt. He's cast off all hint of his most abundant characteristic: charm.

For Jack, every intimacy carries a threat. The most memorable shot in a film full of exquisite camera work from Corbijn and cinematographer Martin Ruhe is from Jack's perspective as Clara's hands clasp over his eyes — a game of "Guess who?" that feels momentarily terrifying.

Corbijn has said he views "The American" as a kind of Western, and he positions Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in the West" in the background of one scene. But the film has more of a film noir feeling of claustrophobic comeuppance. It has — if we are kind — some of the mystery of Antonioni's "The Passenger" and some of the stoicism of a Jean-Pierre Melville policier.

That "The American" is beautiful to look at is unquestionable; Corbijn's formal mastery is something to behold. What is finally slightly disappointing in the film is the familiarity of its story: another tale of "one last job."

It's difficult not to want Corbijn's mournful seriousness to ease up a bit. But "The American" is nevertheless transfixing in its weary, muted grace.

"The American," a Focus Features release, is rated R for violence, sexual content and nudity. Running time: 105 minutes. Three stars out of four.

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As a knife-wielding outlaw, Danny Trejo triumphs in the ultimate B-movie - Chicago Sun-Times

Posted: 03 Sep 2010 01:57 AM PDT

He was born in a trailer. A movie trailer.

They call him Machete, because that's his name and that's his weapon of choice. (Good thing his last name isn't Water Pistol or Throw Pillow.) Danny Trejo is ... Machete!

And he's so good with the big knives, whirling and twirling and slicing and dicing and stabbing and throwing with lethal fierceness -- or maybe it's fierce lethalness -- that he could easily make the finals on "America's Got Talent."

This is one bloody good B-movie, with Robert De Niro, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal and Don Johnson, among others, all taking a supporting back seat to Trejo, the craggy-faced, built-like-a-refrigerator character actor and former San Quentin inmate who has his first major leading role at age 66.

"Machete" was born as one of the fake trailers in the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez double feature "Grindhouse." Reaction was so positive Rodriguez expanded the three-minute short into a full-length feature, with Trejo reprising his role as the Mexican federale turned outlaw/legend. Also returning are Cheech Marin as his brother, a priest who still knows how to wield a shotgun, and the underrated Jeff Fahey as Booth, a slimy businessman who hires Machete to take down a Texas state senator whose stance on immigration is so harsh, he makes Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer look like the Statue of Liberty. (We even get a return appearance by the Avellan sisters, who played the Babysitter Twins in the "Grindhouse" movies, now playing nurses. Nice to know the girls continued with their education.)

Sen. McLaughlin is played by De Niro, and it's not just a cameo a la Willis and Schwarzenegger in "The Expendables." He's really in this exploitation movie, as are the now-corpulent Steven Seagal as an evil Mexican crime lord; Don Johnson as a racist vigilante who thinks nothing of gunning down pregnant women at the Mexican/U.S. border; Jessica Alba as an ICE agent torn between enforcing the law and helping her people, and Michelle Rodriguez as the leader of an underground network that helps illegal immigrants. There's a high cheesecake factor: Alba takes a shower, while Rodriguez takes down bad guys while wearing hip-hugging black pants and a black bra. Both give excellent performances, particularly in the scenes just mentioned.

Here's the deal. Years after Machete's wife and daughter were murdered by the evil Torrez (Seagal), Machete's now working as a day laborer in Texas. (Someone would hire this guy to mow their lawn? Really?) Booth takes note of Machete's fighting skills and recruits him to take down Sen. McLaughlin, but what Machete doesn't know is ... well, let's just say before you know it, Machete's on a mission for revenge. If you're one of the 100 or so henchmen working for various bad guys in this movie, you're probably going to be separated from your head or otherwise killed before the day is done.

Wait. How did I forget to mention the threesome involving Machete and Booth's wife and daughter, and the bad-girl daughter is played by Lindsay Lohan, who later shows up in a nun's habit, wielding a gun with serious intentions?

As you may have surmised by now, "Machete" is not a film with Academy Award ambitions. This is a film with multiple beheadings and shootings, a fully naked, knife-wielding hottie and a house burned to the ground -- and all of that happens BEFORE the opening credits. Rodriguez and co-director Ethan Maniquis know how to stage the kind of over-the-top, cringe-inducing violence that's so disgusting you have to laugh at the sheer audacity when the scene is over.

I don't believe I've ever seen a human intestine employed in the manner in which it is employed in this movie, and I mean that in a good (albeit nauseating) way.

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The American Movie Reviews, George Clooney -

Posted: 03 Sep 2010 02:21 PM PDT

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Starring: George Clooney, Paolo Bonacelli, Violante Placido. Here are some favorable reviews, as the ones you'll find below: Anton Corbijn's The American looks and feels like a movie made by a filmmaker who hasn ...


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